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5. From Zuiderzee to IJsselmeer lake. This process impacted considerably on a number of fronts: nature, fishing, people and the land usage across the wider region.

From Zuiderzee to IJsselmeer lake. This process impacted considerably on a number of fronts: nature, fishing, people and the land usage across the wider region.

From fisherman to farmer

Around 1900, fishing in the Zuiderzee was at an all time high. Every day in excess of 3000 vessels would cast their nets daily in this fertile inland sea. By 1932 however the Afsluitdijk causeway was ready, turning the Zuiderzee into a lake: the IJsselmeer. Salt water was becoming brackish and fresher by the day.

Due to the lake being fed by the IJssel river and the salt water being discharged through the Afsluitdijk sluices in to the North Sea, by 1934 the water was already almost completely fresh. Salt water fauna sought a habitat elsewhere; porpoises and seals quickly moved away. Various types of fish such as herring, flatfish and anchovies lasted a bit longer in the fresh water. Eels, pike perch and smelt appeared just as content in the fresh water and stayed. Still, not in quantities large enough for the local fishermen to continue making a living from fishing.

As early as 1901, large groups were organising protests against the Zuiderzee Works proposals. In solidarity with the fishermen, fish merchants, ship builders and sail makers also feared for their livelihoods. The video below shows images of the activities in Spakenburg, the village once located on the coast of the former Zuiderzee. Actions by fishermen in The Hague demonstrate the drastic impact of Lely's Zuiderzee plans would exert on the entire region surrounding the Zuiderzee.  

Urk’s fishing fleet relocated to work the North Sea. Other fishermen abandoned their occupation altogether and started working the land or became poultry farmers. The Zuiderzee Support Act came into effect in 1925. This law ensured that fishermen no longer able to make a living could apply for benefits and compensation. Along with compensation, the support act also ring-fenced resources for pensions. The Zuiderzee Support Act was only eventually repealed in 2005. In the video, a fisherman describes the effects the creation of the IJsselmeer lake and the land reclamation had on the (fishing) life in the town of Elburg in the Province of Gelderland.

Nature and recreation

A number of 'bordering lakes' came into being when the IJsselmeer polders were created, including the Veluwemeer, Gooimeer and Ketelmeer lakes. These waters proved a paradise for anglers, sailing enthusiasts and other water sports devotees. They are also home to thousands of birds which regularly feed here. The IJsselmeer coastal areas in Noord-Holland and Friesland offer ample opportunity for leisure pursuits, cyclists, ramblers and lovers of water sports. And of course the Nieuw Land National Park.

The entire IJsselmeer area provides a vital stopover for birds migrating from Africa to Northern Europe and vice versa.

The construction of the Houtrib dike, from Enkhuizen to Lelystad, created the Markermeer lake in 1976. This water barrier seals off the Markermeer lake from the IJsselmeer lake.

The polders as a source of food

The agricultural land reclaimed during the Zuiderzee Works is now the source of a part of the Dutch food supply. By the 1970s it was decided that sufficient land had been reclaimed to maintain food production at an adequate level.

In the Noordoost polder, farmers could choose from parcels of land ranging from 12 to 48 hectares. The Eastern and Southern Flevoland polders offered considerably larger parcels. Developments in agriculture meant that farmers could grow significantly larger yields of crops requiring much more space. You get a good impression of Flevoland's 'makeability' from the air.

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1. FROM ZUIDERZEE TO (IJSSELMEER) LAKE

1. FROM ZUIDERZEE TO (IJSSELMEER) LAKE

2.	LELY‘S PLAN

2. LELY‘S PLAN

3.	THE ZUIDERZEE ACT AND THE ZUIDERZEE WORKS

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4. EXECUTION OF THE ZUIDERZEE WORKS

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